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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


By Steve Cooke

Factory International is set to ring in the New Year with a spectacular art installation lighting up the night sky.

Artist impression - image Lee Baxter

Each evening from 1-29 January 2023 between 4pm - 10pm, First Breath will cast powerful beams of light up into the clouds to celebrate new life. The lights will gently pulse to represent the first breaths of babies born that day in Greater Manchester. Audiences will be able to get up close to the artwork, walking in and around the lights, as well as witnessing it from vantage points across the city.

First Breath is being created by world-renowned artist Luke Jerram whose Museum of the Moon has been experienced by more than 20 million people worldwide and his giant 10m Floating Earth was seen by thousands in Media City in Salford and in Pennington Flash near Wigan in 2021.

image NERC

Luke Jerram says: "I want to reveal, celebrate, and connect the hidden community of people giving birth each day in Greater Manchester. Disconnected and yet going through the life-changing experience at the same time, there are on average over 70 babies born each day in the city. This new artwork is designed to celebrate the moment a child is born – the extraordinary moment when they take their first breath and a new life arrives in the world."

First Breath takes place in what will be a unique new public space at Factory International which will come alive in June 2023 with a wide-ranging year-round programme of free events and activities, creating a thriving riverside destination in the city centre for everyone to enjoy.

Hundreds of babies born in January 2023 will also receive lifetime membership to Factory International – providing priority booking, discounted tickets and exclusive invitations to everything from major exhibitions and epic concerts to family performances and workshops.

Image Shereen Perera

John McGrath, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Factory International and Manchester International Festival said, “At the turn of 2023 we’ll celebrating new beginnings with a beautiful public artwork projected from the site of our future home into the night sky. As we welcome hundreds of new-borns into the world through Luke’s light sculpture, we will also be breathing life into our new building and, we hope, setting in motion a fruitful life-long relationship with a new generation."

Programmed and operated by the team behind the world-famous Manchester International Festival (MIF), Factory International will be a global destination for arts, music and culture, commissioning and presenting a year-round programme by leading artists from across the world.

Artist impression - image Lee Baxter

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